Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Hill) Six senators introduced legislation that would make selling fake maple syrup a felony offense that can lead to fines and up to five years in prison.
The Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement (MAPLE) is a response to what chief sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and others say is the increasing practice of cheating Vermont, upstate New York and other maple syrup regions by selling inferior, fake syrup.
"I have been alarmed by the growing number of individuals and businesses claiming to sell genuine Vermont maple syrup when they are in fact selling an inferior product that is not maple syrup at all," Leahy said Thursday. "This is fraud, plain and simple, and it undermines a key part of Vermont's economy and reputation for quality that has been hard-earned through Vermonters' hard work."
He added that others in the syrup-producing regions of Maine, New York and other states also have been hurt. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) are all cosponsors.
Under current law, fraudulently selling fake maple syrup is a misdemeanor offense.
Under the bill, S. 1742, selling fake maple syrup would be listed as an act of fraud that is seen as a felony offense, along with falsifying bank entries, mortgage transactions, loan applications, citizenship records and dozens of other activities.
"We need to make sure that those who intentionally deceive consumers get a trip to jail, not a slap on the wrist," Leahy said. "Schemers should not easily be able to sully the seal of quality that is associated with genuine Vermont maple syrup."
The bill specifically lists what qualifies as real maple syrup: a liquid food derived from heating tree sap or mixing water and maple sugar. In either case, not less than 66 percent of the weight of the product must be "soluble solids derived solely from the sap of a species of tree in the genus Acer."